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Good year for Bayer but plastics division suffers

Bayer has reported a 58% hike in its Q4 net profit, despite difficult market conditions, and said it expects future growth for its healthcare and farming science divisions during 2009. However, the company revealed a disappointing drop in earnings for its material science business, which includes plastics and sealants.

The Leverkusen-based firm said total net profit grew to €106m in the three months to December, up from €67m in the same quarter the previous year. However, sales in the fourth quarter fell 2% to €7.9bn, down from €8bn. For the full year, the company reported 2% sales growth to €32.9bn from €32.4bn.

- From an operational standpoint, 2008 was the most successful year in Bayer’s long history - said chairman Werner Wenning. - Our corporate strategy is proving effective even in a difficult environment. We expect further growth in earnings at HealthCare and CropScience, along with a substantial reduction in net debt.

Sales at its MaterialScience division, which includes plastics, fared less well reported Bayer. The high-tech materials business was hampered by the effects of the global financial and economic crisis in nearly all its product groups and regional markets, claimed the company.

Most worrying, volumes fell in the fourth quarter of 2008 by almost 30% year-on-year. - We have not seen anything like this before - said Wenning. Overall for 2008, sales of MaterialScience fell by 6.7% to €9,738m.

- In the main sectors of importance for our MaterialScience business we anticipate a very difficult year marked by a great deal of uncertainty - he added.